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A Look Ahead: Phillies Return to the Great Northeast

After a successful road-trip that took the Phillies into Chicago and Atlanta, the Phillies return back to Philadelphia to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Following the three-game set, they then pack up and head up I-95 to take on their despised, yet insignificant division rivals, the New York Mets.

The Phillies, despite a 5-1 record last week, exposed a bugs in the system and will try this week to work them out, all while continuing to stay hot and push the Marlins and Braves further out of contention.

The Diamondbacks enter town having lost six of their last ten and are 16.5 games out of first in the N.L. West. Seemingly out of the playoff race, pride is all that’s left, so don’t expect them to go easily into the night.

Tuesday, the D-Backs will send righty Jon Garland to the mound. Despite his 6-10 record, Garland has been half decent this season posting a 4.28 ERA. Garland’s ability to go deep into games has been his biggest asset, pitching 149 innings so far this season. Garland face the Phil’s earlier this season, giving up only three over six innings in the loss.

The Phillies will counter with Pedro Martinez. Martinez makes his Citizens Bank Park debut and will likely receive a warm welcome from the Phillies Phaithful. In his last start Martinez gave up three runs over five innings and looked understandably rusty.

Wednesday staff ace and Cy Young award candidate Dan Haren toes the rubber for the D-Backs. In his last start against the Phillies, Haren took the loss, lasting only five innings. The Phillies worked the right-hander, running his pitch count up early in the game. He allowed only two earned.

The Phillies will send out an ace of their own as Cliff Lee will make his fourth start for the Phils. Lee has been nothing short of spectacular and continues to make his boss look like a certified genius. In Lee’s last outing, an eight inning effort, he allowed six hits, but struck out eight en route to his third victory in pinstripes.

Thursday the series wraps up with Joe Blanton going for the Phils. He will be opposed by Arizona’s Doug Davis. Davis has been great this season and brings a 3.59 ERA into the contest. Davis is tough against lefties and may give the Phillies some trouble.

Blanton also brings his sub-four ERA into the game and has been excellent as of late. He has allowed only three runs or less in his last nine starts and has failed to reach the seventh inning just twice in that span. Interesting to note, in Blanton’s only start against Arizona, he allowed eight earned runs and lasted only three innings. That start came last season.

Thursday night following the game, the Phillies will hop a tricked out Greyhound Bus and head north up I-95 to take on the Mets.

The weekend series kicks off Friday night and the Mets D-Squad will be taking the field. David Wright is the latest casualty of war for the Metropolitans. He was placed on the 15-day DL after receiving a nasty concussion courtesy of a 94 m.p.h. Matt Cain fastball, which he took on the ear flap of his helmet. Wright likely will miss the remainder of the season.

The series starts with Phillies named ace Cole Hamels taking the mound. In Hamels last start, he allowed just two runs and left the game with the lead before Brad Lidge surrendered it in the ninth inning.

The Mets Mike Pelfry takes the hill having pitched well in his last two starts. He has been inconsistent this season, but who on the Mets hasn’t been? At the very least, Pelfry has escaped the injury bug and currently holds a below average 4.75 ERA.

The Mets currently sit 12 games back of the Phillies and playoff hopes remain only for their minor league clubs. Although the Phillies likely will face Johan Santana this weekend, they should handle the Mets with relative ease.

The fact that the Phillies went 5-1 last week was amazing considering they lacked any kind of timely hitting and their closer blew two saves.

That being said, they are playing two vastly inferior teams and should come out of the week having gone no less than 5-1 or 4-2.

To do so, Raul Ibanez, chase Utley, and Jayson Werth all need to come through with runners on base.  Ryan Howard seems to be entering his late season “zone” and had a great week. However he cannot win every game for the Phils and they are in desperate need of more contributions.

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